Shocking government warning ad shows teen being kneecapped by masked paramilitaries after hundreds of attacks in Northern Ireland

A FRIGHTENED teenager is shot in both legs by paramilitaries after being driven to the appointment by his own mother in a shocking government advert.

Punishment beatings and "kneecapping" shootings by organised gangs are now so common in Northern Ireland that authorities are appealing to parents not to take part.

Hundreds of people including schoolboys have been maimed by former IRA and Loyalist thugs who rule housing estates — often for petty crimes such as joyriding.

Now a series of hard-hitting videos shows one brutal kneecapping from the point of view of a mother and her terrified son.

The mum receives a text from the gang saying: "Bring him now".

She leads the youngster to her car and drives him to his appointment with the paramilitaries on a residential street.

The mum tells her son: "I love you" before he walks towards a row of garages followed by two thugs in balaclavas who shoot him behind both knees.

The boy is then heard crying out for his mum, who finds him lying in agony as the thugs flee in a getaway car.

Two other films show it from the point of view of the gunman and a bystander in Northern Ireland Department of Justice's Ending The Harm campaign.

Anthony Harbinson, chairman of the Tackling Paramilitarism Programme Board, said: "In the last five years, 417 people have endured these barbaric shootings and beatings.

"These paramilitaries style themselves as protectors of communities. They would like to see themselves as a second police force, dealing with individuals within their communities, who have stepped outside the law.

"The reality is that the perpetrators of these attacks don’t care about people, or justice, or solving social problems. They are only interested in exerting control and exploiting people for their own gain.

"They don’t offer protection; their sole aim is to terrorise and control, and they use shootings, beatings, drug dealing, intimidation, and protection rackets as their weapons."

Punishment beatings and kneecappings were the IRA's favoured method of "justice" during the Troubles.

Two decades after the Good Friday Agreement, former paramilitary gangs — now crooks running the drug trade — are using the brutal maimings to enforce rule in their territory.

Boys as young as 16 are targeted as "revenge" for anti-social behaviour on estates north and west Belfast.

Last year, 73 people were beaten up in revenge attacks and 28 were shot, up 60 per cent on four years earlier.

Victims might be shot in both ankles and elbows as well as the knees in a so-called "six pack" for the most serious transgressions.

Some victims have been known to take their children to appointments as they try to negotiate a softer punishment.

But amazingly a survey carried out by the Tackling Paramilitarism Board found 35 per cent of people believe the attacks are justified.

Community worker Paul Smyth told the BBC: "I've had youth workers, teachers, civil servants, tell me privately that actually they're OK with these attacks, that they sort out local problems.

"I also think our politicians have been pretty woeful at speaking out about this."

Convictions for punishment attacks are rare because intimidated witnesses are unwilling to give evidence.



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Mr Harbison said local residents need to help end the culture of gang justice.

He said: "Why do some people go to these gangsters and ask them to mete out justice?

"We have to get it through to the community that police will not solve this alone. We have to take a societal approach in changing what people perceive is right and wrong."

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